Friday, May 14, 2010

Do You Feel Vulnerable Without Makeup?

It was described as a special no makeup zone edition of “Today”.  Hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoka Kotb were called “bare faced”.

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It was a simple idea designed to show a dramatic difference.  Hoday Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford women we are used to seeing like this everyday, today like this; the way they really look. 

Kotb: I feel vulnerable

Gifford: You know we’re used to having things really covered up. A little protection

Kotb:  I never really thought about it really but now that I see our monitor I know why.

Both women untouched clearly touched a nerve.  A number of Today show viewers posted their own naked faces and strong messages of support. One said this reminds me of the dorms in college.  For one week each year all the mirrors were covered so that the girls wouldn’t look at themselves and feel fat or ugly.  We would have to go to class “as is”.  Another denounced makeup by saying that you can still feel beautiful without it.  This all started as a challenge from Rosie O'Donnell  who showed her face this morning. So did Meredith Ferreira and Anne Curry.  But a few members of the morning family were missing.

Anne Curry: The bottom line is that the men on the show, they’re wearing makeup too. 

You’d think they know by now that men are notoriously vain.

I suppose that I am one of those stereotypical bloggers.  As I type this, I am in my pyjamas, drinking a cup of green tea (yes Sparky it’s tea) without any makeup.  When I go out later, I can absolutely guarantee that I will not be wearing makeup.  This is not because I am trying to make some sort of statement, I generally speaking don’t wear makeup.   I don’t feel vulnerable or unattractive without it.  I also cannot relate to this as some sort of libratory experiment.

I have friends that won’t even run to the corner store without some sort of makeup and personally, I find the concept ridiculous.   As women, we know that the world is going to  judge us no matter what we do and when we feed it with these manufactured insecurities, it is only made that much worse. 

There are literally millions of women who go makeup free everyday because their main concern is not looking pretty, or performing for the patriarchy, but survival.  I think that this is very much a bourgeoisie concern.  The women that found this practice freeing, were all college educated women with obvious class privilege. 

I think that this little experiment highlights a division in women’s organizing that rarely gets vocalized.  The women with the greatest opportunity to verbalize female oppression, most often do so from a specific lens and then in so doing, eliminate the concerns of marginalized women. Is makeup a concern when you are walking miles to save bus fare? 

What is good for one group of women does not necessarily translate to benefits for all women -- and this point needs to be clearly understood.  While they may have felt strong going on television without makeup, for me, it was hard not to roll my eyes with disdain.  Incidents like this are exactly why women’s organizing seems so out of touch.  Until we dedicate ourselves to giving voice to the myriad of concerns that complicate our lives, we will continue to have these weak statements of strength that are absolutely meaningless and translate to zero growth.   An active women’s movement includes and radicalizes the experience of all.